In a statement on International Literacy Day: ISESCO calls for fighting illiteracy to promote employment opportunities and sustainable economic growth in the Islamic world
The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) released a statement on the occasion of the International Literacy Day, which falls on 8 September each year, in which it called on its 54 Member States to consolidate its capacities and concert its efforts in their literacy process since the World Education Forum held in Dakar in 2000, to improve this education pattern in order to achieve education for all in the post-2015 years, while placing literacy programmes at the core of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly Goal 8 which seeks to “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”.
ISESCO’s statement also referred to the various specialized reports which confirm the strong correlation between education and economic growth. Education is a factor of production that significantly contributes to increasing the pace of economic growth. Thus, the average level of education of the population correlates closely with the annual growth of GDP per capita.
Besides, the statement said that examining the link between literacy, employment and economic growth in the Islamic world reveals that a large segment of the labor force, particularly in the primary sector which includes agriculture and fishing, does not benefit from education services, particularly those of literacy and non-formal education. Such situation prevents them from fully developing their skills and improving their competitiveness to be properly appreciated in the labor market.
The statement underscored that women’s illiteracy is still the weakest link in the economic fabric of most Muslim countries, as they still do not equally benefit from literacy programmes, despite their personal abilities that could enable them to actively contribute to the national economy, hence limiting their contributions both in terms of productivity and management.
In addition, the statement pointed out that the relation between literacy and the sector of technical and vocational training which can provide training for human resources and promote the employability and productivity of the newly literate, remains vague in several Member States. In this connection, ISESCO called for adopting efficient and appropriate procedures in literacy policies and practices, in close relation with the vocational training and economic sectors, and working towards bringing together the national literacy plans and their developmental corollaries in the three main economic sectors.
ISESCO also stressed that literacy and non-formal education programmes for unschooled and out-of-school adults and adolescents need to be founded upon the references pertaining to beneficiaries’ life skills, and be focused on the job market in a number of fields, including agriculture, livestock farming, fishing, handicrafts, energy, mineral resources, etc. In this way, the training modules on income-generating activities for women, with post-integration support measures, will have a significant added value in terms of employability and economic growth among women.
In the same vein, ISESCO recommended consolidating literacy and non-formal education systems with quality indicators in terms of monitoring and evaluation, creating pathways between literacy programmes, vocational and technical training and formal education systems, and establishing an effective partnership between the sector of literacy and vocational training and employers in order to properly address present and future employment requirements.
ISESCO stressed the need to adapt to the modern dynamics of the world of employment, characterized by international competition and globalized markets. Thus, with the introduction and use of information and communication technology in employment, literacy practices have to take into account the digital literacy dimension which combines the learning of reading, writing and numeracy skills with the use of ICTs as working tools in productive employment.
ISESCO recommended the incorporation of the ergonomic dimension by equipping workers and learners with the new vocational qualification requirements along with their quality and safety standards, while restructuring work and modes of production, in connection with computer skills.
Furthermore, the Organization pointed that promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all is, in fact, part of the philosophy of sustainable human development that goes beyond mere economic growth, with possible disparities in the economy and society. In the same vein, it emphasized that literacy programmes, as well as seeking to boost growth and productivity, must be inclusive by catering for marginalized groups such as women, persons with special needs, the rural population, the population living in remote and conflict-affected areas, etc.
In conclusion, ISESCO reiterated the need for literacy strategies to go beyond the conventional concept of economics and actively engage in the dynamics of “green growth” and social cohesion and development’s economic sectors by incorporating into post-literacy modules the dimensions of environmental and health education, well-being of the population, education on common human values, etc.